How do you keep a smoker’s window clean? Simple tricks

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 6, 2022

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So you just bought your first electric smoker and had a few enjoyable BBQ sessions with no problems whatsoever!

But as soon as you looked at the smoker’s glass door, it seemed grim, covered in a layer of smoky dirt.

Let me tell you something! You are not alone. Dirty windows are one of the most common issues with an electric smoker.

So how do you get the windows of your smoker clean again?

How do you keep a smoker's window clean? Simple tricks

You can clean the smoker’s glass window with either water, a special cleaner, or a simple homemade baking soda and vinegar solution, and it will be good as new. Don’t use any abrasive materials, or you might scratch the glass.

In this article, we will be diving deep into how you can keep your smoker’s window clean and the steps involved in the cleaning process.

But there’s more! I will also give you tips and tricks that’ll help prevent dirt build-up on the smoker’s window in the first place.

This means less cleaning and more smoking!

What to know before cleaning your smoker’s window

All set to return your smoker with its eternal shine? Before you start cleaning, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind.

The following are some tips before cleaning your smoker’s windows.

Move the smoker to a safe zone

As you clean the smoker window, there’s a good chance that the soot and drippings will fall off the smoker.

To avoid this, move your smoker outside to the grass. You can also place a mat underneath it to prevent any mess.

Start with the mild stuff

Smokerbrands like Masterbuilt strongly prohibit using strong chemicals on the smoker.

So I would highly recommend starting with homemade remedies first, like soapy water for mild smoke residues and vinegar-soda mix for tougher smoke or grime on the glass or other electric smoker components.

An oven cleaner should be your last option in such cases.

However, if you still don’t see any other way, grill-specific products like Traeger Grills BAC403 should be your only choice.

It’s a non-toxic, food-safe, industrial-strength formula that removes just about anything, no matter how tough!

Avoid abrasive materials

While cleaning the glass, try to use none abrasive materials like a damp cloth, a paper towel, or a high-quality soft dish brush in the most severe cases.

Using an abrasive material will remove the gunk and grime; however, it will also scratch the glass to a pitiful extent.

Clean it the proper way

That’s right! Your technique decides how well you clean your electric smoker.

A rule of thumb is to use soft materials like a damp cloth or sponge on the glass and a butter knife or any other mildly sharp object to clean the far corners of the window.

Don’t hesitate to repeat

If your smoker window doesn’t come off “shining” clean on the first try, don’t hesitate.

Just repeat the process at least two, three, or many times until the smoker window comes off crystal clear.

How to clean your electric smoker’s glass window

Alright, now we are all set to get into it.

Let’s discuss the best ways to clean the window of your smoker.

There are a few ways and materials you can use, depending on the degree of residue left on it.

Cleaning with water & soap

If the residues aren’t that tough, using hot soapy water will work fine to clean the window of your electric smoker.

It will soften down any gunk or residue on the glass surface and make it easier to remove.

There are two methods of cleaning your smoker’s windows with hot water.

Spray & sponge

The first method involves mixing any good detergent with hot water and then spraying the mixture on the glass.

After letting it rest for a couple of minutes, you can scrub it with any good quality kitchen sponge or a paper towel.

This method is usually recommended for mild residue and works best at basic levels.

Wet & scrub

The second method is to dip a piece of soft cloth in the soapy water and then wipe the window with the damp cloth and some elbow grease.

Most smoking enthusiasts prefer this approach as it is much easier and more convenient. Plus, it might also work on relatively tougher residues.

Using a special grill cleaner

If the smoke residue is tough enough to resist soapy water, the next approach is to try a high-quality grill cleaner.

It’s a food-safe liquid specifically formulated to fight off any smoke residue, leftover grease, or mildew build-up inside or outside the smoker.

The using method is pretty much the same as using warm soapy water.

You need to spray a generous amount of liquid on the smoker window, let it sit for 30-60 seconds, and then scrub it off with a damp cloth.

The glass should look as good as new!

Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

Ah! The old-school method never disappoints!

When nothing seems to work, your final hope, other than calling a professional, is using the mixture of vinegar and baking soda.

Just make a good mixture of both and apply it to the smoker’s window in its bubbly glory. Let the two sit there for over an hour and react.

This reaction between both compounds is strong enough to soften down any tough grime that might be residing on the window or any other part of the smoker.

Once the duration is over, it’s time to pick up a damp cloth and scrub it hard.

If the grime or residue is still persisting, you could help yourself with a razor blade or paint scraper and some elbow grease to scrub it off effectively.

The best thing about vinegar and soda mix? It can be used at any part of your electric smoker, whether in the smoker box, smoking chamber, racks, or other parts.

Learn more on how to do a complete clean of your precious electric smoker (the easy way)

Tips to keep the smoker’s window clean

Well, prevention is always better than cure.

Thus, keeping your smoker clean will avoid the chances of dirt or grease build-up on the window in the first place.

The following tips will help prevent buildup on your smoker’s windows:

Clean the smoker door regularly

Here’s the thing! Either you clean the smoker each time after smoking meat or delay it for long enough to let the gunk build.

In the second case, the cleaning will be more time-consuming and challenging.

Guess what? Waiting for the time of seasonal maintenance or “deep clean” is only a lazy argument to avoid the quick chore.

Besides, the ash inside the smoker can absorb water over time, resulting in severe rusting of the smoker box if left to sit for prolonged periods.

With regular cleaning, your electric smoker works at its peak performance while looking tip-top at the same time.

Use premium quality wood pellets

The type and quality of wood pellets and the amount of smoke they produce are two significant factors in deciding how much dirt builds up inside the smoking chamber and the windows of your electric smoker.

Premium quality wood pellets or natural wood chips have less amount of binders and sawdust.

This means they will produce less ash over combustion and cause less build-up due to high-quality smoke.

So even if you don’t clean the smoker too often, it will take a few good rounds of smoking before the smoker needs any serious attention.

On the contrary, low-quality pellets contain more sawdust and binders and create more ash and dirt to deal with while imparting poor flavor to the meat.

Moreover, the flavors you use also significantly affect how often you need to clean the smoker.

For example, ultra smoky woods like mesquite, oak, and hickory will create more smoke than mild woods like cherry, apple, or pecan.

Hence, you can expect quick build-up on the windows.

The bottom line is always to use high-quality pellets if you want your smoker’s window to stay clean.

Moreover, avoid using ultra-smoky woods unless it’s essential. You could also mix it with mild woods to tone down the smokiness.

Keep the airflow maintained

Poor airflow means incomplete combustion, which, in turn, means a lot of condensation, smoke, and residue build-up on the smoker door windows.

As you put in the pellets, see if they produce an unusual amount of smoke. If that’s the case, it’s time to tinker with the vents and see if that solves the problem.

You should also check the chimneys for any soot build-up blocking the smoke escaping the smoke chamber.

If you see any, clean it up, and it should solve the problem.

Never soak the wood chips

Unless you own a Masterbuilt smoker exclusively made for pellets, there’s a good chance you might be putting soaked wood chips or chunks in your smoker to get some extra smokiness.

But hey! It would be best if you stopped doing this right now.

You might ask why?

For combustion to occur, the soaked wood must get rid of the moisture first.

This means the smoke you see at the initial stage of the smoking process isn’t smoke but vapors escaping the wood surface.

These vapors prolong the smoking time and expose the glass door to more smoke, ash, and moisture, which, when combined, takes gunk build-up to a whole new level.

Plus, it also brings down the smoker’s temperature.

Using high-quality, well-seasoned, and dry wood will ensure that you get the best flavor out of your meat while reducing the build of grime in the nooks and crannies of your smoker’s window.

Will seasoning my electric smoker help in avoiding excess residue?

Seasoning definitely keeps your smoker windows in good condition longer and prevents rust formation in different parts.

The practice is even more critical if you have just bought your first electric smoker.

That’s because there are a lot of residues left in most electric smokers from the manufacturing process.

These residues, upon combustion, can produce bad smoke that could intoxicate the meat and facilitate build-up on the smoker window.

As you season the smoker and raise its temperature, it eliminates all the toxicities that might be residing inside and ensures that you get the best flavor out of your meat.

Plus, avoid any excess residue build-up that you would have to deal with otherwise.

I explain the whole process of how to season your smoker here.

Conclusion

With regular smoking comes great responsibilities, and good smoker maintenance is one.

Over time, it’s pretty standard for a smoker to develop residue and grime on its windows and other components.

Therefore, a thorough cleaning every once in a while is crucial to keep your smoker tip-top.

Keeping that into account, I discussed everything you needed to know about electric smoker window cleaning, from precautions to the process and anything in between.

Next, let’s also give the smoker racks a good clean (here’s how and how often)

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.